Radiotherapy for stomach cancer
This page tells you about radiotherapy for stomach cancer. There is information on
Radiotherapy for stomach cancer
Radiotherapy uses high energy waves to kill cancer cells. Doctors don't usually use radiotherapy for stomach cancer. But you may have it for symptoms of an advanced cancer. Radiotherapy may shrink a large cancer and relieve pain. It is also useful for stopping bleeding from an advanced cancer. Trials are looking at combining radiotherapy with chemotherapy to help stop stomach cancer coming back after surgery.
You have radiotherapy at the hospital radiotherapy department. You may have one treatment a day for a few days, or several treatments with a few days break between each. The actual treatment only lasts a couple of minutes.
The side effects of radiotherapy depend on which part of the body is being treated. The side effects of treatment to the stomach are tiredness, feeling or being sick, diarrhoea, reddening of the skin in the treatment area and loss of body hair in the treatment area. You may not have many side effects from your treatment if you are having it for advanced stomach cancer.
You can find more information in the radiotherapy section.
You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating stomach cancer section.
Radiotherapy uses high energy waves to cure cancer. Radiotherapy is not usually used for stomach cancer, although trials are looking at combining radiotherapy with chemotherapy to help stop the cancer from coming back after surgery. You are more likely to have radiotherapy to shrink an advanced cancer. This may relieve pressure, which has been causing pain. Radiotherapy is also very useful for stopping bleeding from an advanced cancer.
Radiotherapy has to be carefully planned. At your first visit you lie under a large specialised CT scanning machine.
The treatment team uses the machine to work out where to give your treatment to kill the most cancer cells and miss as much healthy body tissue as possible. The radiographer will make a pinprick tattoo on your skin. They use this to line up the radiotherapy machine every day when you have your treatment. Sometimes more marks are made with felt pen. Try not to wash them off. If they fade, your radiographer can draw them in again.
You have radiotherapy in the hospital radiotherapy department. You may have one treatment a day for a few days or a few treatments with a few days break between each.
The actual treatment only takes a few minutes. The radiographer will help to position you on the couch and make sure you are comfortable. You will be left alone for the minute or two the machine is switched on. But the staff will be able to hear and see you through an intercom, so you can call if you need them. The treatment doesn't hurt. You won't be able to feel it at all. You must lie very still for the few minutes it takes to treat you.
Having external radiotherapy to your stomach does not make you radioactive. It is perfectly safe to be with other people, including children, throughout your treatment course.
The side effects of radiotherapy depend on which part of the body is being treated. The main side effects of radiotherapy to the stomach are
- Feeling or being sick
- Reddening of the skin in the treatment area
- Loss of body hair in the treatment area
You may not have many side effects from your treatment if you are having it for advanced stomach cancer. You can take an anti sickness drug before each treatment if it makes you feel sick. Ask your doctor if you need these. You are having the treatment to make you feel better. So it is important that the treatment itself does not make you feel worse.
Radiotherapy can cause tiredness for many people. The tiredness wears off over the few weeks following your treatment. There is detailed information about general radiotherapy side effects in the radiotherapy section.
The radiotherapy section tells you more about this type of treatment including
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